EU Commission asks BULGARIA to remove discriminatory measures obliging retailers to favour domestic food products

Free movement of goods and freedom of establishment:

The Commission is sending today a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria regarding discriminatory measures imposed on retailers, obliging them to favour domestic food products.

Bulgarian law obliges retailers to offer distinct exposure and sale space for domestic food products, such as milk, fish, fresh meat and eggs, honey, fruits and vegetables, and to purchase 90% of milk and dairy products from domestic producers.

Such obligations restrict the free movement of goods, enshrined in Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), as it creates more advantageous and competitive marketing conditions for domestic food products, discriminating against similar imported products.

It further restricts the freedom of establishment under Article 49 TFEU, in restricting the freedom of retailers to decide on their assortment, on the lay out of their sales surface, and to adapt their supply chain.

Such restrictions may only be justified by overriding reasons of general interest, such as public health, and must be suitable and necessary for attaining that objective. Due to the extraordinary circumstances due to the coronavirus sanitary situation and the weakening of EU economies, it is an imperative to preserve the free movement of goods and the freedom of establishment.

Unjustified obstacles can undermine our collective efforts to keep freight moving freely and efficiently across the EU, and our capacity to fight this unprecedented crisis, in the spirit of European solidarity.

Therefore, Bulgaria has one month to reply to the concerns raised by the Commission. Without a satisfactory response, the European Commission may decide to send to Bulgaria a reasoned opinion.

Sonya Gospodinova

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